Justification (Hilasterion) Pt.2

Yesterday, we looked at propitiation in Romans 3:25. I gave a brief overview of the word and discussed how it shows God’s righteousness. I encourage you to read “Justification (Hilasterion)” before reading this article. Along with God’s righteousness, propitiation also shows God’s love. Before we dive into 1 John 4:10 we need to look at the depravity of man.

The depravity of man is something that causes much debate in Christian circles. Calvinists call it “total depravity”. I do hold to this view but not because it happens to fit into my theological construct. I hold this view because Scripture clearly teaches it. There are many passages that speak on this but I will focus on two of them. The Apostle Paul understood the sinfulness of man. He understood that depravity was all encompassing and total. We see this in Romans 5:10 and Romans 8:7. Let’s start with Romans 5:10, which says:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. -ESV

Paul describes humans as enemies of God. Left alone to themselves, humans do not want to be united with God. The natural man battles against God, rejects God, and hates God. They do not want to accept his call to repent and believe, in fact, they cannot. This inability to respond to God’s call is shown in Romans 8:7 when Paul writes:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. -ESV

Paul describes the natural mind as hostile towards God. This fits with Paul’s description of humans being enemies of God. Paul takes this one step further when he says that humans cannot submit to the law of God. It is clear that humans do not want to submit to God’s law but we need to understand that humans can’t do so. In passing, Jesus established this point in his ministry when he says:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – (John 6:44, ESV)

So, we see that humans are enemies of God and are hostile towards God. They fight God. They spit at God. They hate God. R. C. Sproul speaks on this in The Holiness of God and says it better than I could when he writes:

If we are unconverted, one thing is absolutely certain: We hate God. The Bible is unambiguous about this point. We are God’s enemies. We are inwardly sworn to His ultimate destruction. It is as natural for us to hate God as it is for rain to moisten the earth when it falls. -R. C. Sproul. The Holiness of God (Kindle Locations 1822-1823). Kindle Edition.

This now brings us to the love of God shown through the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus. 1 John 4:10 says:

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. -ESV

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I love how John describes Jesus’ sacrifice and how it is consistent with Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching on the depravity of man. Notice that John tells us where love comes from and what love is. John tells us that we don’t love God. This is consistent with total depravity. We are enemies of God so it makes sense that love doesn’t come from us. So, where does love come from? Love comes from God!

God loved us so much that, even though we were deserving of death, he sent his Son to pay for our sins. Jesus fulfilled the need for humanity to enter into a life-giving relationship with God. His death makes people righteous before God even though they were deserving of punishment. This shows us how amazing God’s love is. God loved us more than we hated him. If you are looking for God’s love look no further than the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:8:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -ESV


About Travis Berry

I am a blatantly honest person who loves to think, read, discuss, and write about God and theology. I have a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Crown College. I work at a church in Houston, TX as a Youth Director and love every minute of it! I am married to a wonderful woman named Becky and we have one amazing child! I have a love for God's Word, and a fervor to live it out in the fullest, and I pray this blog reflects that. Thanks for checking out AnotherChristianBlog!.

Posted on January 2, 2012, in Christianity, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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